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The High-Level Plan for Digital Transformation | @ThingsExpo #DX #IoT #M2M #Agility

Data strategies and the execution of them will determine the market winners of the future

The size of competitors and the longevity of their brands, are less predictive of future success than the quality and speed of their information logistics systems, and their ability to use it as a competitive advantage.

More data is being generated today than ever before, and successful companies are investing in business analytics and big data solutions to mine competitive advantages.  There is a new sense of urgency today as businesses realize data has a shelf life, and the value of it diminishes rapidly over time.  In an always-connected world where consumers and their needs are transient, timing is everything and a special type of data is needed - real-time data. In order to capture competitive advantages and contextual relevance before data expires, enterprises must deploy optimized information logistics systems (OILS) that deliver on the potential fast enough to exploit it.

Mobile consumers are impatient and demand instant results.  IT infrastructures must be able to support real-time mobile and IoT (internet of things) interactions, and this requirement will increase as mobile commerce is predicted to grow to 47% of all e-commerce by 2018.  Supporting real-time information requires not only real-time IT environments, but also digital transformation across the entire organization. In order to succeed, businesses must react to location-based and time-sensitive information while it is still contextually relevant.

Data is the lifeblood of e-commerce, mobile commerce and increasingly in physical stores where the digital and physical worlds are rapidly converging. As commerce rapidly shifts online and mobile, the success of products, brands and companies are increasingly dependent on data and systems that consume it in order to support the demand for more personalized digital experiences (Read Cutting Through Chaos in the Age of Mobile Me). How an organization makes sense of data, protects it, and disseminates it is a complex and challenging issue.

Data strategies and the execution of them will determine the market winners of the future, and the future is now. Businesses are learning from Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and others that effective data and analytics strategies are the secret to success in digital markets (Read How Digital Thinking Separates Retail Leaders from Laggards).  Information dominance is now the strategic business goal.

In the book Code Halos, authors Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig and Benjamin Pring, describe how the revolution today in data and analytic strategies are impacting industry structures in "consistent and violent patterns."  In another recent study, 82 percent of investors and equity analysts believe industries are being disrupted by innovations in data and analytics.  They believe these innovations will alter competitive dynamics.

In addition to investments in IT, achieving real-time operational tempos in an enterprise takes rethinking business models, organizational structures and business processes.  It requires new ways of operating and employee training.  Supporting real-time operational tempos is a daunting task many will fail to prioritize, and will suffer as a consequence.

The winners of a digital tomorrow will invest in four key areas:

  1. Optimizing their information logistics systems
  2. Supporting real-time operational tempos
  3. Increasing business agility
  4. Using contextually relevant data to personalize digital user experiences

The purpose of these investments is to capture the value of data, exploit the meaning, and attract more customers and loyalty through the speed of their enterprise operations.  Speeds should be maximized in the following 5 areas:

  1. IT system speeds
  2. Business process speeds
  3. Decision-making speeds
  4. Digital and Business Transformation speeds
  5. Aligning with changing customer behavior speeds

Optimized information logistics systems that support real-time speeds will take advantage of sensors, online interactions and mobile devices to collect data.  Sensors can take multiple forms.  They can be embedded chip technology that monitors physical and chemical environments and wirelessly transmits digital results, or they can be software code that monitors contextually relevant opportunities, moments and environments (CROME) by reading data inputs collected from all digital sources. CROME triggers are "meaningful bits of data that when captured and analyzed can activate time-sensitive and relevant personalization that can be used to enhance user experiences."

CROME triggers integrated with real-time artificial intelligence algorithms can transform the potential value of data, into kinetic value by instantaneously personalizing a user's experience and making it contextually relevant.

Businesses that embrace digital transformation will optimize their organizational structures and business models to support the operational tempos required by a mobile and connected world.  By tempos we mean the pace or speed at which the organization must operate to compete successfully.  Increasingly mobile and connected device users demand real-time responses.  To support real-time responses requires an enterprise to move beyond "human time" and into the realm of "digital time" (Read 40 Months of Hyper-Digital Transformation).  Humans as biological entities operate at a pace governed by the sun, moon, and the physical requirements to keep our carbon-based bodies alive.  These requirements and mental limitations make scaling humans beyond these time-cycles impossible without augmentation.  Augmentation takes the form of intelligent process automation, artificial intelligence and algorithms.  These types of augmentation technologies have the advantage of being able to work 24x7x365, and don't as yet ask for holidays off.

Once an organization is capable of supporting real-time tempos, and can support the personalized interactions mobile users demand, the challenge becomes business agility.

Agility is the speed at which a business can recognize, analyze, react and profit from rapidly changing consumer demands in a hyper-competitive market. Businesses that can accurately understand customer demand and their competition, and then respond faster, will soon dominate those, which are slower.  The military strategist John Boyd called these competitive advantages, "getting inside of your competitor's decision and response curves."  This means your actions and responses are occurring at a pace that surpasses your competitions' ability to comprehend it.

Businesses must recognize the demand for real-time operational tempos is only going to increase and this requires strategy, action and a budget. The principle of acceleration and mobility states, "As the number of connected devices increase, the demand for digita interactions will exponentially increase, resulting in an even greater need for digital transformation involving business operations, business processes and IT environments."  Delaying a response, or denying the need for these requirements are not winning options.

Sub-optimal information logistics systems, and the glacial operational tempos of yesteryear will not succeed in today's or tomorrow's world, and company valuations have already begun to reflect this.  One-third of investors and equity analysts surveyed believe that good data and analytics strategies are rewarding companies with higher valuations.  Gartner's Douglas Laney has even coined the phrase infonomics to describe how information, as a new asset class, can be measured to estimate its impact on company valuations.

To succeed in the digital future, CIOs must implement innovative data strategies and information logistics systems capable of winning in a real-time world where contextually relevant, instant and personalized experiences are required.  A good new book on the subject of preparing for this new reality is "What to Do When Machines Do Everything." They must develop company cultures where change is viewed as an opportunity.  They must digitally transform their businesses to operate at real-time tempos and move beyond "human-time" limitations to algorithm supported "digital-time."  They must understand that rapidly changing digital consumer behaviors mandate companies operate in a more agile manner capable of rapid responses to new opportunities and competitive threats.

I invite you to watch my latest short video on digital technology trends and strategies:

Follow Kevin Benedict on Twitter @krbenedict, connect with him on LinkedIn.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

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